Helping your small group respond to God as you dig into the Bible together is largely a matter of asking the right questions. The most common mistake that group leaders make is to ask too many questions. If you ask too many questions, you don’t delve deeply into any of them and the same two or three people answer the questions again and again. By asking fewer, more strategic questions, you go deeper and involve more people in discussing and responding to God’s word.
There are four key questions that will guide your group to encounter and respond to God’s word no matter what Bible passage you are studying. Give all four of them sufficient time, perhaps asking a couple of them in different ways. Taking more time on fewer questions takes your group deeper into the Scripture and allows your introverts enough time to gather their courage and step into the conversation with their insights and struggles.
The four questions are:
- “What stands out to you in this passage?” Just after you read a portion of Scripture, this is an ideal question to begin with because there is no right or wrong answer. Anyone can respond to it honestly and quickly. The question is simple, yet it surfaces promptings that God is speaking to people, and sometimes it reveals important things that are going on in their lives.
- “What do you think the main point is?” After getting people’s first impressions, this question is perfect because it guides your attention to the heart of the passage. There are different ways to ask this. When digging into a Romans passage, you might say, “What do you think Paul is really try to say?” Or, if you are studying a parable of Christ, you might ask, “What do you think Jesus is trying to get across?” Don’t get in a hurry. Allow time to let people’s thoughts and questions emerge. The depth and richness of Scripture becomes so powerful when we grapple with it together.
- “What would it look like if Christ-followers totally applied this lesson (or obeyed this principle) in their lives today?” Once you can have discovered the key thrust of the passage, now you want to figure out together how it should change our everyday lives. Again, there are other ways to ask this. You might ask, “Have you known anyone who is a wonderful example of this?” Or, “What has it looked like when you have, or have not, applied this principle in your life?” All of these questions help us see what applying the truth of a passage looks like in real life.
- Finally, ask: ”What is one way you can apply this truth to your life this week?” Your goal is to guide each person to respond to God in a tangible way. You don’t want to pressure people to reply, but you do want to give each person an opportunity to easily respond and, if needed, to receive prayer, so it often best to move into smaller groups at this point so that people can share more freely.
Got it? Don’t ask so many questions next time your group meets. Try these four questions giving people time to really wrestle with Scripture and share with one another.
It’s actually very simple. God’s Word is powerful and his Spirit is at work. Just ask a few good questions that move people to the heart of the passage, let them discuss what it looks like in their everyday lives, and then let them talk and pray through how God is asking them to personally respond. If you do this, you’ll see lives changed, including your own.